NEW STAGES: REVIEWS Venus & Adonis

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The Independent Culture
Venus & Adonis

On Tour

Captive and bound within the gold-flocked hell of a seedy Soho bedsit, a boyish Adonis (Susan Swanton) recoils in terror from the playful taunts of the dominatrix-like Venus. So begins an updated interpretation of Shakespeare's erotic poem in an all-female collaboration between the Actors Touring Company and physical theatre group, The Hairy Marys. Woven into a tragicomic S&M fantasy, the piece adeptly explores the ideals of love and lust through Venus's clumsy attempts at seduction.

Although this is an otherwise mesmerising production, the poignant ending falls short of its frenzied build-up. Ona McCracken leads with a fine performance as the washed-up, coke-snorting, aged Venus, who narrates into a video camera whilest her younger self, played by Carmelle McAree, lives out her recollections in a sleazy twilight world evoked by film projections.

As the boundaries between love and hate blur, so do those of comedy and tragedy. In one uproarious scene, having failed to woo Adonis, both women resort to an attention-seeking torrent of hysteria and empty suicide attempts. As the older Venus tries to suffocate herself with a plastic bag, the other races around the aisles dousing herself with petrol and the whole thing descends into a glorious farce.

David C Taylor

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